num - the spirit remains
WORKERS, NOV 2004 ISSUE
The membership of the National Union of Mineworkers has fallen to approximately 3,000 working members. Tens of thousands of miners have retired and many others have been forced out of the industry by pit closures.
The coal industry has contracted down to 11 deep mines and 50 open cast mines. The NUM may have to consider a merger with other industrial unions in order to survive.
The decimation of the NUM is the result of the politically motivated policies of the Tory and Labour governments of the last 20 years. In fact Britain still has coal reserves equivalent to 1,000 years of extraction at a time when British gas reserves from the North Sea are nearing extinction - and the price of oil is hitting the highest ever levels in recorded trading, up over $50 a barrel.
But the union has no intention of losing its identity and merging with another union, such as the RMT. Keeping the spirit of the NUM alive is critical to the future rebuilding of the industry and reinforces the need for Britain to have an independent, balanced energy policy.